Open Defecation India, Swachh Bharat Mission

Open Defecation Idea

India accounts for 59 % of total people in the world who practice open defecation, & 90 % of people in south Asia. Swachhta Status Report in 2015, more than half of the rural population still defecates in open.

Problems associated with open defecation 

  • Malnutrition, Diarrhoea and worm infection
  • Open defecation puts at risk the dignity of women – Women feel constrained to relieve themselves only under the cover of dark – make them more prone to physical attacks
  • Cripples national development – workers produce less, live shorter lives, save and invest less


Challenges faced

  • Traditional practice- It is deeply ingrained in society
  • Sanitation is not a socially acceptable topic, and hence, people do not discuss it
  • Many of the poorest people do not prioritize toilets; many are living in rented homes without toilets
  • Society does not view lack of a toilet as unacceptable. Building & owning a toilet is not perceived an aspiration
  • Construction of toilets is still seen as the government’s responsibility


The challenge is to motivate people to see a toilet as fundamental to their social standing, status and well-being. The success of Swachh Bharat Mission is dependent upon behavioral changes and thus there is a need to engage with the community and facilitate the efforts by the people and involved organisations.

Swachh Bharat Mission 

It was launched on 2 October 2014 to make India clean and open defecation free by 2019, Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary. It has slowly developed into a people’s movement with greater awareness and participation and increased interdepartmental coordination.

  • Ministry for Drinking Water and Sanitation is looking at the rural part of the scheme
  • Urban Development Ministry is implementing the programme in urban areas

Swachh Bharat Mission

Efforts by the government

  • Cash incentive for building toilets are being provided by the government
  • Creating solid waste management facilities
  • Efforts and focus on bringing behavioral changes by –
  • Roping in celebrities to promote
  • City surveys to instill a sense of competition among cities – Swachh Survekshan
  • Using technology like Hike Messenger Group which has local administrators from the respective states showcasing their achievements
  • Creation of a portal by the ministry where all the information is available about the project
  • Sanitation Messengers (Swachchata Doot)- village level motivators
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